A Chicago-bound United Express flight was on Saturday forced to return to a St Louis airport within minutes of take-off after doubts surfaced about a passenger.
The United Express flight number 7445, which was heading to O’Hare International airport here, returned without incident to the Lambert St Louis International airport.
After the plane came back with just 15 minutes into the flight, the passenger — whose identity was not disclosed —- was checked by officials and cleared to depart with 64 other passengers, airline and Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officials were quoted as saying by the local media.
The trouble began as computers at the gate were not working when the flight was boarding in St Louis. Due to this, airline staff had to use normal manual back-up procedures to run passengers through a last security check.
The computers began working a little after the plane left St Louis. However, the name of one passenger on board was found to be similar to a name on TSA’s terrorist screening watch list — which recently had been expanded with thousands of new names, officials said.
This “sent the alarm bells off” and the plane was ordered to return to St Louis, they said.
The incident comes at a time when airports across the country are leaving no stone unturned to maintain heightened security in the wake of the Christmas Day attempt by a Nigerian al-Qaeda suspect to blow up Detroit-bound passenger airliner.